Music and Faith, Committing to Music, Playing By Ear Together, and Learning Music Online

Inspiration and motivation are two cornerstones of musicmaking that can be fickle, fleeting, or just plain hard to come by. From writer’s block and lack of financial reward, to finding time to practice, generating initiative and creativity as a musician can seem like a constant uphill battle.

However, if we can pinpoint exactly what frustrates us and impedes our creative process, we can discover some ways to get around these roadblocks.

This week, learn about what inspires one up-and-coming country singer to keep writing, discover how learning to play by ear in a group can help you hone this skill, and tune in to our podcast to explore the topic of learning music online – and how to avoid some common pitfalls to get the most out of your online education.

Music and Faith

What guides your musical journey?

Some of us set out with very specific goals in mind, creating roadmaps and long-term plans to hit our desired milestones.

Jason V. Chapman interviewFor others, their faith also plays a significant role in their musical journey.

If you ask country singer-songwriter Jason V. Chapman where he sees his career going next, he’ll simply tell you, “Wherever God chooses to lead me”. From a chance meeting with his now-producer at a Halloween party to his music being played on national radio, his faith has certainly gotten him far – music itself seems to have been woven into Jason’s life into a divine way, complementing his work, his family life, and his values.

A Higher Musical Power, with Jason V. Chapman is a fascinating account of his journey thus far, and how his faith helps him find the balance between music, work, family, and health.

Jason spoke about the relationships that he has made with other musicians throughout his journey, and how valuable they have been to his growth as a musician. It may be tempting to “go it alone”, but there is so much value to meeting and collaborating with other musicians to broaden your perspective. Home Studio Corner gives some practical suggestions for collaborating online.

Despite his success, Jason, like many musicians, still relies on a day job as the primary means of supporting his family. While so many blogs and articles focus on how to make a living as a musician, music is a hobby and an outlet for the vast majority of musicians. Take a look at how Alabama’s musicians make a living while pursuing their passions.

Jason spoke about the inspiration that he feels when he writes a song, and where the motivation to be a better songwriter comes from. Perhaps the most dreaded thing that a songwriter can experience is writer’s block. Prolific songwriter Cliff Goldmacher gives advice for avoiding writer’s block on West Coast Songwriters.

How do you begin writing a song? For most of us, we need to have that inspiration, the creative spark that gets us started. Band Lab discusses how you can find the motivation and inspiration that will carry you through creating your song.

Committing to Music

Online music education works wonderfully for many musicians – the cost and convenience can’t be beat, and you have the freedom to sample as many as you like to decide what works for you.

However, the usual challenges that musicians encounter get amplified if you are an online learner. What happens if you get stuck? Or if you need feedback?

David Brown interviewThis week, Musical U interviews David Brown of, a website that helps students navigate the usual trappings of online music education – lack of motivation and engagement – by providing step-by-step lessons and immediate feedback.

Don’t miss Finding, Recovering, and Maintaining Motivation, with David Brown to learn about David’s personal musical journey, the lessons he’s learned along the way, and how he has used his knowledge to create such an effective online learning tool.

David talked about the importance of practicing music consistently, and why it’s preferable to sporadic bursts of intense practice. While this may be obvious, the trouble is, many musicians have trouble staying engaged and motivated in their practice. Music Oomph shares some tricks for optimizing your practice.

The feeling of “not being good enough” during a performance is something that plagues new musicians and seasoned pros alike. Building your confidence as a musician and a performer is one of the most rewarding things you can do – and we’ve found these helpful tips from Gaia at Musiview on how to start!

David founded Piano Cub to help musicians become more competent and comfortable on the piano. Looking for more general ways that you can improve your musical abilities? Pianist Musings shares ten ways to become a better musician.

Playing by Ear Together

Playing by ear is a skill anyone can learn – but it will take many attempts and some trial and error.

Thankfully, this skill can be honed in a group setting, adding motivation and fun to the process, and cutting down on the frustration factor.

Playing by ear in a groupIn Introduction to Playing by Ear in A Group, Steve Giddings of Steve’s Music Room takes you through the steps of learning to play by ear in a group, giving practical tips on using physical movement, repetition, and specific listening skills to internalize the song you’re trying to learn.

Playing by ear in a group isn’t something that we often think of doing. If you are in a band or other performing group, normally you learn the parts before coming to rehearsal and then put everything together there. However, if you have ever jammed with another musician, then you have been playing by ear more than you’ve realized! Check out Active Melody’s video tutorial on jamming with others on the guitar.

Do we learn music by ear only because we don’t have the sheet music? Or is there another reason? Not needing sheet music is a great benefit to playing by ear, but it’s far from being the only one. Guitar Adventures discusses how playing songs by ear makes you a better musician.

What if you’re interested in playing by ear in a group, but don’t have a group to play with yet? After reading Steve’s post, we found ourselves wanting to hear more about how he approaches music in a collaborative way – so we found this interview that he did on the Smart Music Podcast about how to start a rock band. Find your musical partners and get rocking now!

Learning Music Online

Going down the rabbit hole of online music learning can leave you feeling frustrated, disoriented, and discouraged – many end up spending a lot of time and a lot of money on a course, only to find that it’s not a good fit.

So, how can you be pragmatic and smart about choosing a music course online?Choosing online music course

In About Choosing an Online Music Course, we discuss the three main criteria you’ll want to keep in mind when making the big decision – to ensure that the material serves you and your musical goals, and that your time and energy (and your money!) is going to the right place.

We discussed the importance on knowing what your musical goals are before committing to an online music course. In Musical U, we teach the importance of having SMART goals to help you reach your destination. Orchestra Central discusses how you can use SMART goals to help shape your practice sessions.

Nearly all musicians need some type of support during their musical journey. When you’re learning a new skill, the importance of knowing how long and often you should practice can’t be understated. Spencer Welch provides guidance on the length and frequency of effective singing practice.

There is no “one size fits all” approach to learning music, especially when you are learning as an adult. Rather than bemoan the challenges that adult learners can face, why not celebrate the experiences that you bring to the table, and learn how to use them to your advantage? Liberty Park Music discusses eight things that you should do when learning music as an adult.

Getting Out of A Musical Rut

Experiencing a creative block or a lapse in motivation is a completely normal part of any musical journey, and so, knowing how to navigate these roadblocks and generate ways to overcome them is as important to your musical success as your instrument technique and aural skills.

Different musicians will find this motivation in different places; for some, the answer may lie in collaboration with others, while others may find that shifting gears by trying a different instrument or learning approach.

Are you in a musical rut? Honing your ear training skills, whether through lessons or online education, is a great way to get past that block. You’ll be amazed at what some new aural tricks can do for your songwriting, improvising, rhythm, singing, and even your understanding of music theory.

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